Prenuptial agreements are documents signed by engaged couples who want to start their marriage out the right way. They take the time to discuss their expectations for the marriage and to arrange for a clean break in the event of a divorce.
The process of prearranging certain support and property division matters helps ensure the couple has the same expectations and values, in addition to making it easier and less expensive to divorce. Although many people think of prenuptial agreements as a way for someone to protect property, like their real estate or small business, the reverse is also a common reason for people to create prenuptial agreements.
You can include clauses in your prenuptial agreements addressing debts like student loans so that the marriage isn’t as much of a financial risk for the spouses.
Student loans can mean a lifetime of debt
Many people with major student loans pay on them for decades, possibly longer than they will require to pay off their mortgages. There are two reasons that people may need a prenuptial agreement addressing their student loan debt or the debt carried by their fiance.
The first is the obvious scenario in which one fiance already has major student loan debt. In theory, student loans from before the marriage are separate property, but financial commingling during marriage can complicate the matter. The couple may refinance the student loans to reduce the payment amounts each month and the interest accruing on the account, for example.
The other reason to address student loan debt in a prenuptial agreement is that one fiance knows they will attend an institution of higher education after the marriage. They know they will take on student loan debt for college or graduate school, possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt in some cases. They agree with their future spouse in writing that they will have sole responsibility for that debt if they eventually divorce.
How an agreement helps
By clarifying the prenuptial agreement that the existing or future student loans will remain the sole and separate responsibility of either spouse, the couple can move forward with their relationship with neither potentially taking on thousands of dollars in financial risk simply by becoming the spouse of someone with existing or future student loan debt.
Many working-class and middle-class professionals would benefit from prenuptial agreements if they understood how versatile these documents could actually be. People may feel more comfortable making a commitment when they don’t have to worry about their romantic partner taking advantage of them because of student loan debt.
Thinking about what is at risk when you get married and what could happen if you get divorced might help you see the value in the prenuptial agreement and even convince your fiance that drafting an agreement could help strengthen your future marriage.